Thursday, June 17, 2010

Nanobrewery Interviews: Manchester Brewing (Part 2)

While most of us have toyed with the thought of starting up a nanbrewery, others have taken the plunge.  To find out more about who these people are and what makes them do what they do, Tom and I embarked on a series of interviews with regional nanobreweries to get their stories.

Manchester Brewing
Concord, NH

As a follow-up to the first half of our interview with Kevin Bloom, owner of Manchester Brewing, this post presents the conclusion of our Q and A with Kevin.  Manchester Brewering started brewery production in 2008 and has recently start repbrewing after a short reprieve.  Currently, Kevin's beer can be found at select draft accounts in Massachusetts and hopefully soon in New Hampshire and Vermont. 

* * *

Lug Wrench (LW): Where did you get the inspiration for the beers you chose to commercialize? How did you pick your range of offerings?

Kevin Bloom (KB): My tastes are all over the map in beer, I love stouts first, followed by German styles, particularly Marzen, British ales like ESB's, Belgians of all description, and nearly everything else including sahti. (a Finnish beer made with baker's yeast). If I could have my druthers I'd open a brewpub and make every damn thing. If they turn out bad then I'll drink them.

So far, I've been fairly lucky. I made a Peppermint Stout, we sold maybe 14 barrels but we won't make it again because it wasn't that popular---people liked it or hated it, about 50/50. The Cinnamon Stout was a blowout, about 9 of 10 people we tested really liked it. Usually if I like something, I know other beer drinkers will like it too. Although what I like may not be enjoyed by those who drink the mass produced "beer", most beer drinkers like something I make. So I guess what I'm saying is that if I make a beer and it blows my glasses back, it goes on the market. The peppermint stout was sort of different because the first batch I made was the first ever. It's really good on ice cream, though!

LW: How did you gather the capital to start the nanobrewery?  How did you solicit investors?

KB: At first, I sold my interest in Liberty Street Brewing Company to my partners. Then, once I ran out of funds here, I got a couple of investors.  To round up investors, I just talked to acquaintances. That's one of the things covered in the School of Beer class. I found investors in very different ways when we started Liberty Street Brewing. There are very strict limits on what you are allowed to do as far as advertising goes. It's totally illegal to sell stock on the web, and one of the first companies that tried it was a brewery start up. They got into all kinds of legal trouble and were shut down by the SEC. I have a whole section in my syllabus about how to pick a good securities lawyer. Many who say they can do the job know nothing about it. They tend to charge the same as those who do know.

LW: You mentioned you had plans to offer discounted keg sales to local kegerator owners - what's the story behind it?

KB: I would like to have our beer taste the way it was made to taste. If we sell our beer in keg to kegerator owners, there's a good chance that will happen. We'll offer to clean their beer lines as well as the kegs we take in trade. I've had my beer on tap in bars, and strangely it tasted like a whole 'nother beer. Of course, homebrewers can use the system to keg their own beers, and that's a good thing too. Beats bottling two cases of 12 ounce bottles, eh?

LW: If you were speaking to an individual who is considering the prospect of opening their own small brewery, what advice would you give them?

KB: Go for it! (I'd qualify that by saying that if none of your friends like your beer, and you have trouble giving it away, then you might want to reconsider.) Do your homework before you plunge. Spend time and you won't have to pay as much. Research really pays off. Once you think you have your costs nailed, talk to a brewer in the biz and they'll tell you something you DON'T know. This is the best business for getting help. Brewers are a fun bunch, they aren't your competition. There are towns that support 10 micros, the beer drinkers will go to all of them.

I would advise people to sell over the counter, if that's at all feasible. You need that margin and you'll enjoy all the feedback. They make you have a restaurant in New Hampshire, and that sucks. I'm working to get that law changed, by the way. Get involved with your peer group. I have so much advice that we opened a School of Beer recently, we have a one day class where prospective brewers can see a whole batch being brewed, plus a syllabus that includes financing without banks and with no credit, siting, government forms and bureaucrats, sourcing and purchasing equipment, and how to save money all around. I want to have one every two weeks. The first is May 29, the second is June 19.

LW: Many of our readers are homebrewers - would you be willing to give us one of your recipes if people want to give it a try?

KB: I would be happy to provide a recipe, it's simple and a good summer beer. Here are my notes:

El Hefe - German Hefeweizen

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5
Total Grain (Lbs): 14.51
OG: 1.047
IBU: ~18 (Rager)

This is a classic Hefeweisen. The key to making it taste good is the yeast.  You should only use White Labs WLP380 to get the "banana clove" taste.  The carbonation should be relatively high, 2.7 to 2.8 volumes of CO2  The beer should be served at 38 degrees or so, in a tall glass.  (It will not be clear due to the style, and that's just fine.)

5 lbs. Pilsner malt
5 lbs. Wheat malt
(I like Durst malt but Weyermans is good too.)

1 hop addition: I enjoyed subbing the original Hallertau with Amarillo, you could use Tettnang too.
At boil, 0.5 oz Amarillo hops (9.9% alpha) at 60 minutes.

* * *
Part 1 of our intereview with Kevin Bloom and Manchester Brewing can be found here.

If you want to find out more about Kevin, Manchester Brewing, or School of Beer, check out their website or better yet, if you are in the Concord area, stop by the brewery.



“I distrust camels and anyone else who can go a week without drinking.”
- Joe E. Lewis


  1. Jeff, are the IBU's on that recipe correct? 67 seems awfully high for a single half oz addition.

    Great line of interviews btw.

  2. Brian,

    Thanks for picking that out - you are certainly correct as it is supposed to be 18 IBUs.

    We appreciate the feedback.



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